You fear them.
They are there, always.
They know who you are. They know what you are.
They are there for you, only for you.
No one else sees them.
No one else hears.
No one else feels them lean across their chests.
Standing in front of the room full of people as you ask a question to still heads and silence, you see them, you feel them, hear their words, the sound of
Gone as faces blur. The walls contract. Day becomes night. Warmer. Constrained. Mirrors. The mirror. Shadows. The stench. The sharp stench. The shadow.
You reach for the band around your wrist, pull it. As it hits your wrist you are back asking a question to silence.
You fill the gap. Talk. Gabble. You cannot afford silence. You cannot let your head be quiet. You cannot let your head be still.
Because they are there. They are always there.
The shadows in the corner of your eye. They wait for you to notice them. They know you will. Eventually. They sit just on the edge of your vision. Sometimes it is easier for them to be still than to move. If they move you look away. But when they stay still, whisper, they know you see them.
Your therapist told you that you needed grounded, that they could only be exorcised by being aware of now, by being in the present. A rubber band round your wrist. An opened paperclip to jab into your palm.
It works sometimes.
But you still hear them. Every day. You still feel them. They move into and out of shadow. Every morning. Every night. Every time there is a lull in your head. Every time there is silence. Every time it is still.
They come, unwanted, when you
feel the hand on your shoulder,
the man behind you greeting you with no words but his arm tight round your neck,
the man sitting too close on the train,
the face too near yours,
smell the stench of alcohol,
see the eyes the colour of phlegm,
hear the words.
You never forget.
They are there. Haunting you.
Days later you sit, eyes closed, listening to the wind. Holding. Held. Cheeks damp, but all cried out. You cannot sense them. They cannot get to you here. Sometimes you are safe.